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Insurtech Week brings together insurance startups from around the world

16 insurtech startups gathered in Des Moines last week along with technology, innovation, and business leaders from the insurance industry for a number of innovation activities put together by the Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA).

The activities included innovation presentations, co-working, networking, education and matchmaking for pilots and capital raises with the bulk of the week’s activities taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Below is an overview of the week’s main events.

Educational Sessions 

On Tuesday, GIA hosted six different hour-long educational sessions intended to provide startup companies with information to help them continue to grow and succeed.

Here is a brief recap of the six sessions that took place on Tuesday:

Executive Development
This session was designed for Insurtech CEOs & Founders who seek to build executive capacity as it relates to leading a company, investor relations or selling into complex organizations.

Raising Capital When You Haven’t Raised Before
This session was designed for early-stage ventures who plan to raise capital for the first time.

Regulatory Considerations
This session was for early-stage Insurtech companies who need to consider regulatory issues at the state or federal level.

Reasonable expectations when investing in a start-up
This session was designed for insurance companies who are considering investing in an early or growth stage venture. The presentation discussed typical problems that mature, regulated insurance companies face when investing in start-ups, and solutions to those issues.

Technical Assessments – Passing the InfoSec Test
This session talked through various information security issues that insurance companies expect an insurtech company to have resolved or be ready to address quickly.

Earning and Executing a Pilot
This session was for Insurtech companies who are ready, or soon to be ready, to engage in pilots and service contracts with insurance carriers. Each presenter talked for a portion of the hour to share best practices and tangible takeaways for startups.

Startup Presentations

On Wednesday afternoon, Brian Hemesath sat down with 14 of the 16 participating startups for a Q&A-style interview presentation at the Science Center of Iowa.

The fourteen presentations were split into two sessions with a networking break in between.

The Q&A’s consisted of the startups sharing information about their backgrounds, specific challenges they’ve faced and future outlooks for their respective companies.

Previous coverage

16 companies set to participate in InsurTech Week 2018 –September 4, 2018

Insurtech Week brings together insurance startups from around the world | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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